January 23, 2013: The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has charged 28-year-old Jaime Willis with Arson, Insurance Fraud, Attempt Theft by Deception, Conspiracy, REAP, and False Reports to Law Enforcement Authorities. Special Investigators from Safe Auto Insurance Company contacted detectives from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit in 2012 after receiving a suspected fraudulent vehicle theft claim from Jaime Willis.
On the night of April 10, 2012, police officers and firefighters responded to a report that a car was on fire. When they arrived at 100 block of Ashdale Street they found a 2001 Saab fully ablaze. Officers determined by the VIN number that the vehicle belonged to Jaime Willis and attempted to notify her that her car was on fire, they received no response from Willis. The following morning, Willis called Philadelphia Police and reported that she had woken up and discovered that her 2001 Saab was missing. She claimed she had parked it on her street the night before. Later on April 11, after calling police, Willis allegedly notified Safe Auto and informed them that her vehicle had been stolen and recovered with fire damage.
As investigators looked into the incident, several evidentiary factors seemed to disprove Willis’ claim of theft. Commercial buildings across from West Ashdale Street were equipped with surveillance cameras that allegedly showed an unidentified male parking Willis’ Saab across the street at about 10:30 at night. The male is first seen removing items from the Saab’s trunk and about an hour later, the man is seen throwing something into the Saab and then fleeing. The car ignites and ten minutes later police and firefighters arrive on the scene.
In addition to the surveillance footage, other evidence discredited Willis’ claims of theft. The results of a forensic examination of Willis’ 2001 Saab contradicted crucial aspects of her account of how the car was stolen. An analysis of Willis’ cell phone records showed that multiple phone calls took place between her and her boyfriend on April 10 and into the early hours of April 11. The first call occurred shortly after ten o’clock, prior to the car arriving at the Ashdale Street location, and the last call occurred at 2:35, shortly after the police tried to notify Willis of the fire.
Safe Auto determined that Willis’ 2001 Saab was valued at $4,745. As a result of the fire, the damage to the vehicle far exceeded the value and her vehicle is considered a total loss. Willis appeared at an Examination Under Oath and testified. Initially she maintained that her vehicle was stolen from outside her home. After being confronted with the evidence of the surveillance video and the forensic examination, Willis withdrew her stolen auto claim. She was arrested on January 22, 2013, and her next court date is February 1, 2013 in courtroom 406.